Our natural tendency when confronted is to give a knee-jerk response. Gerald Clerx, author and sales coach, condenses our instinctive replies into 4 responses we should not use. He calls these unsuitable responses the JAWS of Defense. I must confess that I am guilty of using all four responses.
- J = Justify: Giving an excuse or trying to justify actions or circumstances (i.e., That is not what I meant…).
- A = Accuse: Casting the blame on someone else (i.e, You should have been clearer…..).
- W = Withdraw: Withdrawing or disengaging from the situation or relationship (i.e., If you aren’t willing to xxx, then I’ll call someone else…).
- S = Sarcasm: Giving a sarcastic response or exaggerated claim (i.e., With that group, you’re luck if you get any response at all...).
Instead of responding instinctively, we should respond strategically using Gerald's "ACRE" formula.
- A = Align: Identifying with the person and making it clear that you understand where they are coming from even though you may not agree with them (i.e., I understand where you are coming from. I’d be upset too if …..).
- C = Clarify: Asking a clarifying question(s) to make sure you understand the underlying reason behind their initial question. The root of the original question is often a symptom of the person’s real question or concern (i.e., What kind of solution makes sense to you?).
- R = Respond: Answering with a thoughtful response once you clearly understand their underlying question or concern (i.e., It sounds like xxxx is important to you. I would be willing to xxxxxx).
- E = Encourage: Asking a meaningful question that encourages a positive response (i.e., Does that solution satisfy your concerns?)
The cool thing about Gerald's system is that you can apply it to any area of your life. It's a relational response using empathy rather than confrontation. Practice this skill and watch your win-rate increase.
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